Egyptian Lahma Bil Basal and Homemade Pita Bread

Lahma Bil Basal

It’s been raining here for a few days. When it rains, we often make dishes that require long simmer times. J was feeling adventurous and decided to try an Egyptian peasant dish he found on Food.com. I wanted to try my hand at homemade pita bread. Surprisingly, the bread turned out well. As usual, J’s dish was fantastic. It was an amazing meal.

Lahma Bil Basal ingredients:
1 lb stewing beef
4 yellow onions (sliced super thin, we used the food processor)
2 chicken bouillon cubes (yes, chicken. I promise this works)
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (do NOT use olive oil for this)
water
salt & pepper (we used a couple of turns of each)

Lahma Bil Basal directions:
Put the meat in saucepan over medium heat with butter and oil. Cook until lightly browned. Add all sliced onions, bouillon cubes, salt and pepper, bay leaf and stir around cooking on medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Add water, about 1-1/2 cups, turn to low, cover and cook for at least 2 hours. (We cooked for about three total hours.)

Lahma Bil Basal
Check during cooking, add more water if too dry. Don’t be afraid to let a few bits brown, those add extra depth to the flavor. But the onions should give enough liquid with initial water you added. For the last half hour remove the lid and allow the dish to thicken. When finished you should have super tender beef with a thick oniony sauce. The onions cook down to create a thick rich sauce. Serve with rice, pita bread or your favorite pasta.

Pita Bread ingredients:
This is originally from this website and was super easy. (Note: your yeast packet might have slightly different directions. Follow those directions first.)
1 1/4 cup warm water (not boiling or hot, apparently it kills the yeast. Yes, I learned this the hard way.)
2 1/2 tsp. yeast
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. oil

Pita Bread directions:
Add the warm water and yeast together. If your packet calls for adding sugar, add the sugar at the same time.
Homemade Pita Bread

After about 10 minutes when the yeast water is frothy, add the salt, oil and flour. Mix well.
Homemade Pita Bread

Turn the dough onto the counter and knead well to bring it all together. Feel free to add more flour as necessary. Divide the dough into eight equal parts. Roll each part into a ball and flatten into a six-inch circle with a rolling-pin.
Homemade Pita Bread
Flour a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place each rolled out circle on the floured surface and let rise for at least a half an hour. Heat your oven to 500 degrees. Peel the dough off the foil and put onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 4-8 minutes, (we cooked each side for 5 minutes) flipping halfway through. Stack on top of each other and cover loosely with dish towel to let steam escape.
IMG_4844

My opinion:
This was the perfect dish to have with a nice glass of syrah. The meat is fall apart tender and the gravy is melt in your mouth delicious. I thought it was best with the pita bread.

Advertisements

Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon


If you’ve seen Julie and Julia, then you know Beef Bourguignon can be so much more than just Beef Bourguignon. I can assure you, this dish is worth it. It is not a weeknight dish. It is not a leave it on the stove and forget it dish, but it is unfathomably delicious. Make this on a rainy day weekend, it is perfect for fall. Since I’m not lucky enough to have the Julia Child cookbook, My sister adapted this recipe from ABC’s Good Morning America. She’s the one who slaved over the stove for several hours and deserves all the credit.

Ingredients:
One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon (since no local grocer carries  this, we just used regular thick cut bacon)
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes  (or go with the already cut stew meat from your favorite butcher)
1 carrot, sliced (we used a mandolin at 1/4 setting)
1 onion, sliced (we used a mandolin at 1/4 setting)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy. HyVee, our go to wine retailer was out of these, so we went with their recommendation, which was a Bordeaux)
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock (we used the box variety)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
A crumbled bay leaf
18 to 24 white onions, small (the pearl onions worked fine for us)
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered (we cheated and used pre-sliced button mushrooms)
1 pound (bag) of egg noodles
Directions: Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long).Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Since we were using bacon we skipped the steps above and went right to sauteeing the bacon in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly (we used a cast iron skillet). Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust). Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees (this is when we moved everything to a casserole dish, seems our casserole pan is only oven safe to 400 degrees). Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet. Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly. Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside. Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms. Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat. When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan (We just used a mesh strainer). Wash out the casserole (we skipped this to leave all the delicious crusty bits) and return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top. Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.

My opinion:
Over egg noodles this dish is just divine. There are no additional words to describe it.

Ratatouille from Ratatouille


Also known as Confit Byaldi. I loved Ratatouille. Partially because I love Paris, French cuisine and of course Disney. The tagline from the movie, “anyone can cook!” always makes me smile. I was thrilled when J found that the New York Times published this recipe. I’ve had to modify it because spending three to four hours on dinner just doesn’t work for us.  Bon appétit!

Piperade Ingredients:
1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed (we used a whole red and a whole green, they were small)
1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic (we used more at least 1 tablespoon)
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
3 tomatoes (about 12 ounces total weight), peeled, seeded, and finely diced, juices reserved (we used a can of petite diced tomatoes)
1 sprig thyme (we used dried about 1 teaspoon)
1 sprig flat-leaf parsley (we also used dried, about 2 teaspoons)
1/2 a bay leaf (we used a whole bay leaf)
Kosher salt

Piperade Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined sheet, cut side down. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely. Combine oil, garlic, and onion (which we precombined in a food processor) in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt, and discard herbs (obviously we left the parsley and thyme in the dish, but removed the bay leaf). Reserve tablespoon of mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch skillet.

Ingredients for Vegetables:
1 zucchini, sliced thin
Japanese eggplant sliced thin (if you can’t find Japanese, use regular, we do)
1 yellow squash, sliced thin
4 Roma tomatoes, slicked thin
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (we used more)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Vegetable Directions:
Preheat oven to 275 degrees (we heated the oven to 400 degrees). Down center of pan, arrange a strip of 8 alternating slices of vegetables over piperade, overlapping so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed (this is not an exact science). Around the center strip, overlap vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until pan is filled; all vegetables may not be needed. Mix garlic, oil, and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover pan with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours (if using a 400 degree oven, check after 30 to 45 minutes). Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. (if using a 400 degree oven, cook 5 to 10 minutes uncovered.) If there is excess liquid in pan, place over medium heat on stove until reduced. At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350-degree oven until warm. (If using a 400 degree oven, there will be liquid. We don’t mind the liquid in the bottom. Better to use bread to soak it up! But if you do, follow the same directions for the medium head on the stove top.)

Vinaigrette Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oi
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Vinaigrette Directions:
Combine reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

My opinion:
I love this dish in the middle of summer, I love it in winter. It’s just a great refreshing, vegetable filled dish. We serve it with crusty french bread. We serve the leftovers over pasta or blend it into a thick sauce and serve over pasta. Sometimes the second day dishes are a tinge better than the first.

Beef Stew

For the first time since getting our crockpot several years ago, we decided to make a stew. Unfortunately, our two-person crockpot was too small even for a halved version of this recipe! We got the recipe from Schnucks. I was skeptical, but am so glad we were willing to try it. Wonderful!

Note: this recipe serves at least 6 people.
Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. butter
1 lb. chuck or bottom round, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 c. vegetable juice cocktail
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can beef broth
2 medium (1 c.) carrots, peeled, sliced 1-inch
2 medium (1 c.) potatoes, peeled, cubed
1 medium (1/2 c.) onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. water
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour (TIP: Add more flour if a thicker stew is desired)
2 Tbsp. red wine or beef broth

Directions:
Melt butter in 10-inch skillet until sizzling; add meat. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned (5 to 7 min.). Place meat in slow cooker. Stir in all remaining ingredients except peas, water, flour and wine. Cover; cook on Low heat setting for 8 to 9 hrs., or High heat setting for 5 to 6 hrs. or until beef is tender. Uncover; remove bay leaf. Stir in peas. Stir together water, flour and wine in small bowl until smooth. Slowly stir flour mixture into beef mixture, stirring constantly. Cook on High heat setting, stirring occasionally, until thickened (8 to 10 min.).

My opinion:
We didn’t have enough room for the peas or the full amount of beef broth. I also think I might have added a bit too much wine, but overall it was delicious. The next time in order to get it all into the crock pot, I will have to third the recipe in order to get it to fit.